ProPublica, September 5, 2023, Erasing The “Black Spot”: How A Virginia College Expanded By Uprooting A Black Neighborhood
Around 1960, in the last gasp of the Jim Crow era, the Shoe Lane community consisted of a church and about 20 Black families, including teachers, dentists, a high school principal and a NASA engineer. They owned ranch-style houses along Shoe Lane and three other streets, which formed a trapezoid enclosing woods and farmland. The Johnsons were planning to sell some of the farmland to Black people who aspired to the American dream of homeownership but were shut out of white neighborhoods by racist banking and zoning policies. The enclave’s population was about to grow.
But geography — and racism — were against them.
Today, only five Black households, including the Johnsons and Katie Luck, are left in the Shoe Lane area. One sits between sorority and fraternity houses and a residence hall; the only street access is through a university parking lot. A dorm and a student center occupy land that the Johnsons hoped to develop.